China is the powerhouse of the East. Besides that, the huge nation is also known for its internet censorship for its citizens, that apparently goes beyond its borders.
This time, the authorities in the country have arrested a University of Minnesota student for posting ‘offensive’ tweets. Luo Daiqing was arrested in July 2019 for allegedly comparing China‘s President Xi Jinping with cartoon characters such as Winnie-the-Pooh, and Lawrence Limburger, a cartoon villain from the 1993 TV show, Biker Mice from Mars.
From the obtained court documents, it was noted that the student tweeted these pictures that disparaged the national leader and “created a negative social impact,” while he was in the U.S..
It was suggested that Daiqing was detained from his hometown of Wuhan, the capital of Central China’s Hubei province, after his spring semester.
In November, the court sentenced Daiqing for six months of jail.
The court said Luo “confessed” to using a false identity and posting the pictures to attract attention, and to deleting them later after realizing they were “improper.”
This incident goes to show that the Chinese government is even tracking and monitoring its citizens when they are abroad.
The case represents an escalation of the Chinese government's attempts to shut down free speech of its citizens living outside China, and a global expansion of a Chinese police campaign to track down internet users who post content that are critical or sensitive to the Chinese government.
Ben Sasse, a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a statement about the arrest of Daiqing, and called for his release and condemning the detention as an act of “ruthless and paranoid totalitarianism.”
“Don’t forget that the Chinese Communist Party has banned Twitter, so the only people who even saw these tweets were the goons charged with monitoring Chinese citizens while they’re enjoying freedom here in the United States,” he said.
Ilhan Omar, a U.S. Representative for Minnesota also called for Daiqing's release, echoing Sasse's calling the inprisonment "ruthless totalitarianism."
"Luo Daiqing made these posts while he was in the U.S. attending college in my district. Here in the United States, we believe in free speech," she said.